What skills does a 5 year old learn?

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I just found this forum, and I've been browsing a lot of threads. My daughter turned 5 in January. She started gymnastics at age 2. She stopped from about ages 3-4 due to finances. We switched gyms due to scheduling conflicts, and I wasn't happy with the program or the customer service. (They actually dropped her from class for missing 2 weeks. We were in a car accident, and then she was sick. Tuition was paid.) So we worked out the schedule stuff, and she just started back at her old gym. I actually like the program there a lot better.

I'm reading a lot of stuff about "pre-team." I had heard of it before, but I assumed it was for kids around 6-7. I looked on my gym's website, and it does have pre-team listed for kids starting around age 4.

I'm not sure where my kid is skills-wise. She's getting a lot better at cartwheels, she does forward and backwards rolls. But I haven't been able to actually watch an entire practice because I'm wrangling a 2 year old. We're sending our 5 year old to a week of gymnastics camp with this gym during the summer, and I think that will help her a lot. She really loves gymnastics, and hands-down would rather do gymnastics than her dance class. We've only been back at this gym for a few weeks, so I don't want to be pushy and seem like a psycho mom. Should I even ask if she's doing well? Should I just suck it up and wait until gymnastics camp? Is there anything I should be doing at home with her? I've never done any sort of gymnastics. So I get worried even for her to do a cartwheel at home, because I'm afraid it's not padded, I don't know if it's the right form, etc. Tell me I'm not psycho! (Or tell me I am. I guess I'm looking for honesty.:p)


Proud Parent
Jun 21, 2011
Hi There,

My DD tried out for preteam when she was four and a half. She started a month before she turned 5 and has been on preteam since the middle of last June. When she started, she had a good handstand, a good cartwheel(but bent legs), back roll on floor, strong bridge, good walks and kicks on beam, not much but swinging on bars, and run, punch and jump on vault. Now, 9 months later at age 5 and 8 months, she has:

Really nice handstand and cartwheel
Good roundoff to back handspring over a barrel
handspring with light spot
back walkover
bridge kickover
handstand fall down to bridge (I think this is called a front limber)

Handstand on low beam
Cartwheel on low beam- sometimes
Walks, balances and easy jumps on high beam


Handstand flatback onto stacked mat


Back hip circleswing to straight legs up (think this is precursor to the kip),
Tap swings
Front hip circle with spot

As you can see, she didn't have a huge amount of skills starting preteam, but did have a few. If you are interested in it, I'd let them know as soon as possible so they can evaluate and work with her. They should know you are interested, because many people arent.


Proud Parent
Jul 28, 2011
At my gym the focus for preteamers is strength and flexibility (although some basic skills, such as handstands and cartwheels, are worked). Many gyms feel that strength and flexibility are the foundation for skills that they will learn on team.


Proud Parent
Jan 31, 2012
The car
I am in the exact same boat as you--mom of a super eager and motivated 5-year-old who loves gymnastics and prefers it to dance but does not have a lot of skills yet. From what I have observed in the gym and read on this forum, it seems like gyms like to split the kids into a recreational track and a competitive track very early. The pre-team/developmental kids get more conditioning, more rigorous coaching, and higher expectations, which translates into faster progress. If this is what you and your daughter want, you might do well to make some vague inquiries about how to get "more time in the gym." That will allow you to test the waters without seeming like a crazy pushy parent. They may suggest an evaluation or at least tell you what the process is for moving up levels. At our gym, none of this information is readily available.

Unfortunately for my daughter, her rec coach approached me after her first class about putting her in a developmental program, then changed her mind for the time being and decided to keep her in the rec class--but not before I apparently made her think I was a crazy gym mom by asking a couple of times about the status of the move-up. Now I think that impression is hurting my daughter's chances of ever making it to pre-team. So beware of being too eager!


Proud Parent
Jun 21, 2011
Some gyms have a very secret process for getting to preteam and team. Others have tryouts. I took my daughter away from one gym to another who had a much more open process. They have annual tryouts and you can also be privately evaluated for placement as well. Alot depends on number of openings, when other kids are expected to be moving up etc. My suggestion is that if you are truly interested in your daughter doing preteam is find a gym that is upfront about their preteam program. Is it on their website? Is there someone you can contact listed? Does it explain the different groups, appropriate age levels etc? If not, then team is going to be a much more elusive process. In the little ones, the Hopey are looking for strength and flexibility, and some skills, but also kids who can pay attention and show the desire to do gymnastics. Can your gymnast handle up to 3 hour practices and maintain their attention and focus? It's a very important component. At the first gym, they kept you in the rec program as long as possible because it made them more money. There is no info about team or preteam on the website. The only mention of team is a link to the Team with a restricted password. We went to another gym that is upfront about when and where you can tryout. It has been a wonderful place so far. Hope that helps


Proud Parent
Feb 12, 2009
I have a 5 year old DD, and she's on the pre-team. They do a lot of conditioning for strength and flexibility during each practice.

They work mostly on:

Floor: Handstands, Cartwheels, Roundoffs, bridges, kickovers, back and front walkovers, back and front handsprings, back rolls to pushup, back extension rolls.

Beam: Walking, hopping, split leaps, split jumps, handstands, arabesques/scales, cartwheels

Bars: Pullovers, back and front hip circles, shoot throughs, stride/mill circles, tap swings, glide swings

Vault: Dive Rolls, Handstand Flat-backs, Handsprings over mat stack into the pit

My 3.5 year old is in a kinder class with older girls (5-7) and they work on a lot of the same skills, but do less strength and conditioning, and most of their skills are in the beginning phases (heavily spotted). The preteam girls concentrate a lot on form, and getting the skills without a spot.


Thanks everyone. I took my girls to stay and play today so I could talk to the owner in a laid-back setting. I asked if they have pre-team, and she said no. They put everyone right onto team, starting at level 1. Semantics. Anyway, I asked what the process was to be evaluated for team. Her eyes lit up and said "is that something you're interested in?" I said yes.

She told me that she doesn't try to push it on people because a lot of her younger kids are just there for rec. She handed me the team packet (holy money batman!) and told me to come try out a practice. I asked if she thought my dd was ready for it, and she said absolutely. She's been watching my dd since we've come back (only 4 weeks now) and she said her strength is amazing. And her focus is spot-on. I can't make the practice tomorrow, but we'll go next week to try it out. So I think we're moving into the crazy world of gym!
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Proud Parent
May 14, 2011
Sounds good! Do be advised that if they start the girls competing at level 1, I would ask more questions. Does that mean the typical track there is one year at levels 1, 2 and 3? These are all considered pre-team levels and I know of one local gym that makes their "preteam" girls start at level 1 and compete a year at each of those beginning levels. Seems a major waste of time to me.


Thanks for the advice. I'll be sure to ask about this. I don't think they compete until level 3, but I might have misunderstood her. I'll ask her again about that, and if they need to stay a year in each level.
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